Ornithophobia or Fear of Birds: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment
Ornithophobia is a specific phobia, sometimes observed with humans and is characterized by the fear of birds. The phobia pertaining to birds stems from the menacing and darker image of some prey birds. Victims of ornithophobia or fear of birds have the perception that they will be attacked by birds or the presence of birds around them simply make their life uncomfortable.
There are individuals who only are fearful of predatory birds, like vultures. There are others who are afraid of pet birds like the budgies. The phobia causes palpitations in the heart, nervousness, sweating, and avoidance behavior. It is important for individuals to seek the good advice of a medical practitioner. It is because without proper treatment the fear can be life threatening.
Causes of Ornithophobia or Fear of Birds
Ornithophobia or fear of birds is often caused because of a previous traumatic experience where the person had faced threat, harm because of birds. Traumatic events can be caused because of avian attacks from predatory birds like vultures, eagles. Such events can be caused to visitors at places like zoos, forests. They can be any such incident which provokes a sense of fear in the minds of individuals. The phobia can also arise if he or she has witnessed a loved one experiencing a harmful incident involving birds.
Ancient beliefs may also cause ornithophobia or fear of birds in a person. There are beliefs and folklores related to birds that present the birds as harmful and dangerous. Many consider that albatross is a messenger of bad omen or ravens, messenger of devastation and death. Such ancient beliefs also cause a certain section of people to have a bad perception about the birds. These kinds of superstition often result for a person to be an ornithophobic.
Symptoms of Ornithophobia or Fear of Birds
The common symptoms that indicate ornithophobia or fear of birds in a person are:
- Constant and severe avian fear.
- Fear triggered by just a thought, feathers, image of bird is a symptom of ornithophobia or fear of birds.
- Avoiding places where birds are present.
- Recognizing that the fear is unreasonable (with the exception of children).
- Panic attacks with physical signs such as trembling, getting fixed at the sight, racing heartbeat, sweating, muscle tension, shouting, dizziness or fainting, crying or running away hastily.
There are several symptoms of phobia and if the symptoms occur for a time period of more than six months, and affect the daily living, then the clients need to consult the doctor. Ornithophobia or fear of birds is a problem which is not only restricted to large and harmful birds like vultures but the problem is seen with household birds like pigeons and crows. This is a cause of remarkable distress and causes complete avoidance of the outside world. In such situations, treatment becomes absolutely necessary.
Complications of Ornithophobia or Fear of Birds
Birds are prevalent throughout populated areas of the world and observations reveal that those who suffer from ornithophobia or fear of birds, gradually restrict their activities, for instance, the individual may:
- Avoid picnics, other outdoor activities.
- Not interested in visiting pet stores.
- Afraid to leave their house for fear of confronting a bird is a complication of ornithophobia or fear of birds.
Diagnosis of Ornithophobia or Fear of Birds
As far as ornithophobia or fear of birds is concerned, there are no lab tests. The diagnosis for treatment is based on a comprehensive clinical interview, guidelines for diagnosis. The doctor usually asks questions about the symptoms concerning the condition. Such questionnaire is followed by an analysis of psychiatric, medical and social history.
Treatment for Ornithophobia or Fear of Birds
For the treatment of ornithophobia or fear of birds, relaxation techniques can be made use of. Such techniques are drug-free methods to handle with the problem. Recognizing the beginning of the phobia symptoms when it is triggered by seeing images featuring the birds or in the presence of birds is important. Relaxation methods like slow and deep inhaling stops the anxiety from spiraling out of control.
The cognitive-behavior therapy is also effective in treating. CBT consists of a course of sessions with a specialist doctor over a certain period of time.
Exposure therapy for ornithophobia or fear of birds is also used to desensitize the patient towards birds. In this case, patient has to overcome his fear based on exposure to the same thing that fears/scares a lot. The individual can start the treatment by viewing at videos or images of the birds. The following step involves being in the same space with a bird. It can be a enclosure or a cage. During such sessions, the therapist needs to be present. The therapist aids the patient to evaluate anxiety level at each stage in the course.
Prevention of Ornithophobia or Fear of Birds
For individuals who have ornithophobia or fear of birds, getting psychological help, is recommended. Genetics play an important role in leading to phobic temperament, repeatedly seeing other's phobic reaction, also trigger phobia among children. By dealing with their fears own fears, the clients might prevent passing them on to their children.
Home Remedies for Ornithophobia or Fear of Birds
The lemon juice or lime taken in any form is useful to get rid of nausea and dizziness related to phobia. This remedy is used by the Ayurvedic practitioners. In fact, herbal treatments of the problem depend on specific symptoms exhibited by the clients. A great home remedy is to cut a lime in halves and smelling it, the victims can get relief from the ornithophobia or fear of birds and associated symptoms.
Coping with Ornithophobia or Fear of Birds
Individually, the victim of ornithophobia or fear of birds can take some positive steps on their own to cope and care for yourself:
- It is advisable not to avoid feared situations. Family, friends, therapist help the respective sufferers to work on this.
- By joining a self-help or support group the clients can connect with others who can understand the problems they are going through.
- The sufferers require taking medicines as directed by the physicians. Stopping medication without consulting the doctor is not advisable. There are some medications that can cause withdrawal-like symptoms.
- The victims suffering from ornithophobia or fear of birds need to take care of themselves. This is possible through rest, eating healthy and staying physically active every day.